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Lemony Moroccan-Style Chicken Kebabs


Serves six

Microwaving the lemons is a quick method for giving them the flavor of preserved lemons.

For the marinade:
  • 2 lemons
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 1/8-inch-thick slices peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. dried marjoram
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Pinch saffron threads
  • 1 tsp. light brown sugar
  • 2-1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
For the kebabs:
  • 2-1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 sweet onion (like Vidalia), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish
For the Yogurt-Lemon Sauce:
  • 1 seedless cucumber, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
  • Kosher salt
Make the marinade:

Cut four deep, lengthwise gashes, equally spaced, into each lemon. Put the lemons and garlic cloves in a small microwavable container. Cover and microwave on high until the lemons are soft and juice has exuded from them, about 4 min. (If not soft, continue to microwave in 30-second intervals). Strain the juice into a small container and let the lemons and garlic cool briefly. When the lemons are cool enough to handle, separate them into sections. Scrape the pulp and most of the white pith away with a spoon; discard. Put the scraped lemon peels, garlic, lemon juice, and remaining marinade ingredients in a blender and purée to make a coarse, soft paste. Set 2 Tbs.aside to use for the yogurt sauce.

Marinate the chicken:

Put the chicken into a 1-gallon zip-top bag; scrape in the remaining marinade. Massage the bag to coat all the chicken pieces and marinate for 1 to 2 hours in the refrigerator.

Grill the kebabs:

Flat or double-pronged skewers keep food from spinning when you turn them.

Build a medium-hot charcoal fire or heat a gas grill to medium high. Dump the chicken into a bowl, but don’t scrape off any excess marinade. Put the onion and peppers in the marinade bag and massage them to coat with the marinade (it’s fine if the onion pieces break apart). Transfer to another bowl. Thread the chicken onto skewers, positioning a piece of onion and pepper between the pieces of chicken. If there’s extra pepper or onion, thread them onto separate skewers, if you like.

When ready to grill, oil the grill grate. Grill the kebabs over direct heat (uncovered for charcoal; covered for gas), turning the skewers every 2 to 3 min. until the chicken is firm and shows no redness when cut into, about 10 to 15 min. Check several pieces of chicken to be sure.

Make the sauce:

Combine the reserved 2 Tbs. marinade with the cucumber, cilantro, yogurt, and 2 tsp. salt. Mix well. (Make the sauce no more than an hour before serving or it will be too watery).

To serve:

Remove the chicken and vegetables from the skewers and serve them in a mound with the yogurt sauce on the side.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on six servings, Calories (kcal): 396, Fat (kcal): 21, Fat Calories (g): 191, Saturated Fat (g): 6, Protein (g): 38, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 9, Carbohydrates (mg): 13, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 4, Sodium (g): 583, Cholesterol (g): 135, Fiber (g): 2,

Photo: Scott Phillips

Really very special. I found the recipe easy and an easy summer meal. My husband, who tends to be a picky eater, ate every bite including the veggies.

This was so... good! I made this dish for a potluck BBQ and there was nothing left to take home! Like other reviewers, I used chicken breast instead of thighs and just grilled the breasts rather than making kebabs. I will try it as kebabs next time though, because I think this chicken would be excellent skewered with roasted peppers and onions as in the recipe. I will most likely zest the lemons before microwaving them next time around, because scraping out the pulp was kind of a pain. The cucumber-yogurt sauce was the perfect condiment! I added mint and parsley instead of cilantro, since many of my friends are anti-cilantro. All in all, this recipe is definitely a keeper!

One other thing - cook whatever veggies you are using on separate skewers. The meat and the veggies often have different cooking times. This way you'll have both perfectly cooked veggies and meat.

I have made this many times. It's a terrific summer dinner for guests. I usually make it with half lamb and half chicken, but otherwise follow the recipe pretty closely. I use wooden skewers - the trick to not having the meat spin on them when you flip the kabobs is to use two skewers about 1/4 inch apart per kabob.

We love this dish. We had friends over last night for dinner. I doubled the recipe. Everyone loved it and wanted the recipe. I forgot to add the ginger but it was delicious without it. I had a difficult time separating the pulp and white pith from the lemon peel so I only used a few pieces. I also ran out of black pepper but that wasn't an issue either. I put the chicken (without skewers) on the broiler pan and the vegetables on the griddle and it was delicious. The dish was very flavorful and tender. The yogurt sauce was an added bonus - great with or without. Highly recommended with a Greek salad. Try Fine Cooking "Chopped Greek Salad with Garlic Croutons" (Fine Cooking Annual Volume 2, page 88). Very yummy.

Great recipe - really delicious an unique. I use about 1/4 of the pepper recommended so that the lemon flavor doesn't get over whelmed. This recipe looks much more complicated that it is - try it!

I made this for dinner last night and we loved it! I used boneless chicken breasts and added thick slices of zucchini. My plain yogurt was fat free but it worked very well. I used a sharp small paring knife to scrape off the pith from the peel (a bit tedious but well worth the effort). I placed most of my kebabs in a grill basket which makes it easier to flip them. But the ones I put directly on the grid flipped ok too. This is definitely a keeper! Warning to anyone who has not used turmeric: be very careful as this stuff stains some things forever once it gets wet.

I have been making these kebabs at least two or three times each month since the recipe first came out. We only skewer the meat, however, omitting the vegetables and couscous. Also, in the interest of health, we sometimes use chicken tenders or regular breast meat instead of thighs, and they still taste great. I like to serve them with a simple Greek salad and warm pita bread; the flavor of the marinade and yogurt sauce works really well with juicy heirloom tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, and briny feta. Enjoy!

Loved the marinade and sauce! The layering of spices was divine without any one being particularly overpowering. I did not make kebabs but grilled the marinated boneless thighs and served with yogurt sauce--SO good! Definitely a repeat!

Amazing! We added zuchinni to the kabobs, which was a great addition.

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